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December 26, 2014

Worst Reality TV Shows Ever

by Leonard Jacobs, posted Nov 5th 2009 12:00PM
Worst Reality ShowsThere have been dozens, if not hundreds, of reality TV shows since the genre gathered steam at the start of this decade. There are the big and enduring ones -- 'Survivor,' 'Big Brother,' etc. -- but many were just hot messes (thanks, Britney Spears, Bobby Brown, Flavor Flav and various other fame-seeking tools!). Here are our picks for the 10 all-time worst, most ill-advised, absolutely, incredulously, jaw-droppingly awful forays into reality television. What are yours?Worst Reality ShowsThere have been dozens, if not hundreds, of reality TV shows since the genre gathered steam at the start of this decade. There are the big and enduring ones -- 'Survivor,' 'Big Brother,' etc. -- but many were just hot messes (thanks, Britney Spears, Bobby Brown, Flavor Flav and various other fame-seeking tools!). Here are our picks for the 10 all-time worst, most ill-advised, absolutely, incredulously, jaw-droppingly awful forays into reality television. What are yours?

10. 'Growing Up Gotti' (A&E, 2004-05)
A&E's look at the life of Victoria Gotti -- daughter of late mafioso John Gotti -- was a really guilty pleasure. Remember her over-the-top mansion, making Gianni Versace's rococo estate in Miami Beach look like a minimalism orgy? Or Gotti's sons, Carmine, John and Frank, all coiffed to the nines and putting the 'do back in Guido? Yet families are families: Even the Gotti sons, for all their mousse-y dysfunction, showed a real love for their mother, offering a respite from the inanity of the plotlines ... and those nails-on-a-blackboard Long Island accents.


9. 'Boy Meets Boy' (Bravo, 2003)
Bravo had a single gay man, James Getzlaff, pick his way through 15 men to find a "mate." Alas, Getzlaff didn't know some of the men were straight. And therein lies the rub: If his mate turned out to be straight, Getzlaff would win nothing and lose his pride ... and the straight guy would be $25K richer. If the final mate was gay, however, they'd travel to New Zealand, where presumably the natives would gawk. In reality, all the men were colossally vapid. And though Getzlaff chose a gay man, Aucklanders never got to gawk -- he and his mate never went.


8. 'Flavor of Love' (VH1, 2006-09)
VH1s spinoff of 'Strange Love' and 'The Surreal Life' strained credulity. Could Flavor Flav, who had fathered more kids than Mother Hubbard could stuff in a shoe, find love? In a broad tribute to VH1's demographic, the show was a three-season hit. Still, Flav was a sight: With that clock on his neck half the time, the former Public Enemy rapper looked like Big Ben with a dowager's hump. He mumbled incessantly. His eyes were so red, Meth clinics should have been sponsors. The dude could give new meaning to the phrase "weed whacker." And he never wound up with any of the, er, women, either. Instead, he made an honest woman of his seventh baby momma. It had flavor, but no taste.


7. 'Breaking Bonaduce' (VH1, 2005-06)
VH1 squeezed out two seasons from a guy who'd been cute on 'The Partridge Family' 40 years ago and somehow managed to extend his 15 minutes of fame by a month and a half. But it just wasn't pretty -- this was reality --TV voyeurism at its most rancid, following the guy from one awful physical and emotional breakdown to the next. He drank, he tested his marriage, he drank some more, he tested his marriage some more, he got jacked on steroids, he tested his marriage again, he drank, he got jacked, he tried suicide, he drank, he tested his marriage again. It was reality, it was risible. He needed help and the cameras off.


6. 'Amish in the City' (UPN, 2004)
UPN wanted to examine "rumspringa," the practice in which Amish teenagers spend time outside their religious code. This way, when they return to the fold, it's because they've immersed in the modern world and want to rejoin their sect, not be forced into doing so. The difference here was that Amish teens would mix it up with "regular" American teens. Well, the show was 'Real World'-lite and often hostile to organized religion. It revealed the Amish as less sheltered than you'd think and the "regular" teens as dumb. Some critics liked it, but mostly it was boring, predictable fare.


5. 'Temptation Island' (FOX, 2001-03)
Fox's show, which ran two seasons, took a break, then ran a third, was like this:

"We're a couple and we're so hot."
"Yeah, we're so hot, and they're so hot, and wow, like, they're so hot, too."
"Wow, we're all so hot."
"We're all so hot and we're all so tempted ..."
"To boink."
"Yeah, to boink."
"And that would be, like, so hot."

But, um, you're all couples. Aren't you all supposed to be faithful?"

"What's faithful? Is that hot?"

One good thing to emerge from 'Temptation Island': eye-shadow-loving Mandy Lauderdale, who sang 'More Like Me.' Can't say the same for the show, though.


4. 'Are You Hot?' (ABC, 2003)
ABC, in a triumph of lowest-common-denominator thinking, capitalized on the popularity of the website HotorNot.com and presented this one-season flop entirely driven by the answer to the title question. Only five episodes were aired, and in each one, Lorenzo Lamas, one of a passel of celebrity judges, began to actually look more and more respectable. That's how pathetic the show conceit was, not to mention the oversize egos of the ridiculously hot (or not) contestants.


3. 'Being Bobby Brown' (Bravo, 2005)
Bravo's hit 2005 look at the 'My Prerogative' singer was one of three monumental train wrecks in reality-TV history. In this case, the show's premise was really driven by America's desperation for a look at Brown's wife, megastar Whitney Houston, who basically hit bottom, or slightly beneath it, on this 11-episode nightmare. I mean, did anyone really care about Bobby Brown? Who at Bravo thought it was 1993? Crack was whack then, too. Or, as Whitney said, "Hell to the no."


2. 'Britney & Kevin: Chaotic' (UPN, 2005)
UPN aired this series that left people on both coasts, and everyone in between, gob-smacked and wailing aspirin. The five episodes took not even a month to air, but homemade footage of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline immediately made them each national punchlines. Beautiful Britney had more to lose: She came off more addle-brained than ever. Then again, Federline did more for wife-beaters than Clark Gable did for not wearing T-shirts in the film 'It Happened One Night.'


1. 'Armed & Famous' (CBS, 2007)
CBS' venture into law enforcement should have been a matter of arrested development. Erik Estrada, La Toya Jackson, Jack Osbourne, Trish Stratus and Wee Man (Jason Acuna from 'Jackass') trained to become reserve police officers in Muncie, Indiana. Four episodes over 16 days left some viewers macing themselves and others hitting themselves with billy clubs. The verdict: solitary confinement for all, no parole and no appeal.

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